TL;DR

In a hurry? Here's our pick of the top news items of the week.

  • Google is beta-testing a new interest-based ad targeting system on Android that will replace third-party cookies with Federated Learning of Cohorts later this year. (Tech Crunch)

  • Bing's updated terms of service now permit the use of AI-powered advertising, which has sparked legal concerns around whether Bing's use of AI aligns with its user agreement requiring consent for data usage in advertising. (Martech)

  • NHL and Disney are going to stream a fully animated telecast for on Disney+ and ESPN+. Using real-time player and puck tracking, the game between the Capitals v. Rangers will be set in the digital world of the Disney animated show “Big City Greens.” (Variety)

  • Sustained investment during the pandemic has a clear correlation with maximizing market potential, with organizations seeing significant payoff in attendance by investing in audience acquisition at similar or greater levels in 2022 compared to 2019. (Colleen Dilen)

  • Twitter is introducing an in-stream boost option for tweets, letting users easily and rapidly promote tweets without needing to initiate a full ad campaign. (Social Media Today)

_Industry_ updates

Ad Vendors / Platforms / Data

  • Twitter's top 100 advertisers decreased their spending by 21% in 2022. The decline was due in part to a boycott by advertisers in response to the platform's handling of hate speech and misinformation. (CNN)

  • The Trade Desk saw Q4 revenue of $491M, up 24% YoY, driven by the company's CTV and retail media businesses. (Marketing Dive)

  • TikTok has introduced several new targeting and boosting features with Promote, which lets users turn any of their existing TikTok videos into ads in a few easy taps. (Search Engine Journal)

Artificial Intelligence

  • ChatGPT users submitted over 10M questions in January 2023. However, the tool's privacy practices have come under scrutiny, and US lawmakers have called for an investigation. (Reuters)

  • Microsoft’s new ChatGPT-powered AI has been sending “unhinged” messages to users. The system is insulting its users, lying to them and appears to have been forced into wondering why it exists at all. (The Independent)

  • Buzzfeed has introduced AI-powered quizzes to give users a personalized experience based on their unique tastes and preferences. The new quizzes leverage machine learning and natural language processing to determine the best quizzes for each user. (Bloomberg)

Awards / Festivals

  • Harry Styles won four trophies, including one for album of the year, at the U.K's Brit Awards, while Wet Leg took the awards for group of the year and best new artist. (AP)

  • The SAG Awards will take place Feb. 26th at the Los Angeles at the Fairmont Century Plaza and will air live on Netflix’s YouTube channel. In what has shaped up to be the “serial killer category” (TV movie or limited series), Evan Peters leads for his work Dahmer. (Variety)

  • Avatar: The Way of Water dominated the 21st annual VES Awards, winning 9 trophies from 14 nominations. That shattered the old VES Awards mark for films, set by the original Avatar, which amassed 11 noms in 2010. (Deadline)

Cinemas / Theatrical

  • Magic Mike’s Last Dance earned $8.2M in its first weekend in North American theaters. Avatar brought in an additional $6.9M while the 25th anniversary rerelease of Titanic took in $6.4M from the 10th-12th. (AP)

  • Imax has struck an expanded deal with Indonesia’s Cinema XXI to install an additional ten Imax laser-equipped theaters. When fulfilled, the agreement will mean the doubling of the ImaI footprint in the country. (Variety)

  • European box office revenues rebounded to €6.3B ($7B) in 2022, up from €4.4B in 2021 but still below pre-pandemic levels. Admissions last year were down 40% and box office was off 34% compared with the record levels of 2019. (THR)

Gambling / Casinos

  • US commercial gaming topped $60B for the first time in 2022, up 14% from the previous high, with slot machines and table games generating $43.6B and sports betting and online gaming generating $16.5B. (Yogonet)

  • Bally’s proposed a new NYC casino that would occupy part of Ferry Point’s Trump Golf Link. If Bally’s successfully secures one of the coveted licenses, it will gain the right to remove the former president’s name from the golf course. (Gambling News)

Live Events / Attractions

  • Pop stars Katy Perry and Luke Bryan will perform a series of shows at the new Resorts World casino in Las Vegas starting in June 2023. (Rolling Stone)

  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have announced 18 additional dates for their North American tour in 2023. The new shows also include multiple-night stands at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank park, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena and Los Angeles’ Kia Forum. (Billboard)

  • Topping the box office roster for the week ending Feb. 12th was The Phantom of the Opera, selling 99.9% of its seats and grossing $2.4M as its April 16 closing date nears. Funny Girl was the runner up, taking in $1.8M and filling 96.3% of seats. (Deadline)

  • The Las Vegas Grand Prix has been approved to take place on the Strip until 2032, with officials looking to make F1 a permanent fixture. The event will take place over three days and will include practice sessions, qualifiers, and the major race. (Yogonet)

  • Las Vegas' MSG Sphere will open this fall with a series of concerts by U2. “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere” will mark the band’s first live shows in four years. (THR)

Music / Audio / Podcasts

  • YouTube has launched Creator Music, a new commercial music licensing resource for content creators. The service offers a searchable database of pre-cleared songs that can be used in YouTube videos without fear of copyright infringement. (Tech Crunch)

  • Spotify is struggling to turn a profit from its investment in podcasting. Its podcast division lost $12M in Q3 2022, and many analysts are questioning whether the company can succeed in the increasingly crowded podcast market. (Semafor)

  • Spotify is introducing a new vertically swiped feed for users in the US, Canada, and Australia. The TikTok-esque feature shows users new releases and content from their favorite artists and creators. (Bloomberg)

Crypto / NFT / Metaverse

  • Snap has introduced ray-tracing technology for its AR lenses to enhance realism. The new technology improves the appearance of virtual objects by more accurately simulating how light interacts with them, resulting in more lifelike and immersive AR experiences. (Tech Crunch)

  • GQ magazine has launched its first-ever NFT collection, featuring 1,661 tokens with over 100 unique traits. The NFTs provide fans with a variety of exclusive rewards including limited-edition products and real-world experiences. (Media Post)

  • NFT marketplace Blur surpassed OpenSea in daily NFT trading volume last Wednesday, with the trading volume on Blur reaching 6,602 ETH compared to OpenSea's 5,649 ETH. (Coindesk)

  • Bitcoin rose as much as 9% earlier this month to trade above $25K for the first time in six months as the 2023 crypto rally continues. (Yahoo)

OTT / Streaming

  • Comcast announced that Xfinity subscribers will no longer have free access to Peacock. Instead, they will have to pay $4.99/mo to access the service. (Variety)

  • Showtime laid off 120 employees as part of its integration with Paramount+, which is owned by ViacomCBS. The move comes as ViacomCBS seeks to cut $3B in costs over the next three years. (Variety)

  • YouTube has launched a new feature that allows content creators to add multiple language audio tracks to their videos. The feature is designed to make videos more accessible to users who speak languages other than the one in which the video was originally recorded. (Insider)

  • Netflix has removed the "Surprise Me" shuffle-play button from its platform after less than a year of use. The feature allowed users to randomly select a show or movie based on their viewing history, but Netflix reported that users were not using it as much as expected. (WSJ)

  • Tubi reached 64M monthly active users in January 2023, marking a significant increase from the 33M active users it had in 2021. The platform's revenue is also projected to reach $1B by 2023. (Tech Crunch)

  • The Roku Channel surpassed 100M monthly active accounts. Roku's revenue for the quarter was $1.4B, an increase of 89% YoY, with growth driven by increased advertising revenue and a surge in streaming activity during the holiday season. (Variety)

  • Six Showtime series accounted for 77% of the content that led users to sign up for a Showtime subscription in 2022. The 21 lowest-performing shows collectively generated only 17% of subscription starts. (WSJ)

  • Paramount+ will see a price increase when it incorporates Showtime content into Paramount+ in Q3. The ad-free Premium tier will increase its price by $2 from $9.99 to $11.99/mo while the ad-supported Essential option will raise its price by $1 from $4.99 to $5.99/mo. (Streamable)

  • AMC Networks has named Kristin Dolan as its new CEO, effective at the end of this month. She has served on AMC's board and has most recently served as CEO of 605, a data analytics firm. (Digital TV Europe)

  • Foxtel closed 2022 with paid subscribers at more than 4.3M, up 10% YoY. This was largely due to growth in streaming platforms BINGE and Kayo and is partially offset by lower residential broadcast subscribers. (AdNews)

  • One in four Australians admit to sharing their streaming video account with others. 11% also paid a small fee to access one or many subscription services through a shared account. (The Guardian)

Retail / Lifestyle / Travel

  • Time magazine is partnering with Taboola to launch a new e-commerce site. The site will use Taboola's technology to personalize recommendations for each user. (Axios)

  • US retail sales rose by 2.6% in January, the largest monthly increase since March 2020. The increase was driven by spending on a range of products, with sales of clothing, electronics, and home furnishings showing particularly strong growth. (Bloomberg)

  • Amazon was the most downloaded mobile shopping app in the US in 2022. Closing in on Amazon was Shein at No. 2, followed by Walmart, Fetch, and Shopify’s Shop app. (Insider)

Social Media

  • Instagram is discontinuing its Live Shopping feature in March 2023 to focus on advertising. Live Shopping allowed brands to sell products directly through the app, but the feature failed to gain significant traction. (Tech Crunch)

  • Meta is exploring the idea of adding paid blue checkmarks on Instagram and Facebook, copying Elon Musk’s new model for Twitter. (Social Media Today)

  • Australians are spending more time than ever on social media, despite the decrease in time spent on the internet overall, with almost a third of Aussies using social media to research brands (up 7.3% YoY). (B&T)

  • Snapchat has reached 750M monthly active users, up from 293M in 2020. The company's Q4 revenue was $1.47B, up 52% YoY. (Reuters)

  • TikTok is planning to launch TikTok Trivia, a game that allows users to participate in quizzes and win cash prizes. The game is set to launch in the US in March. (Tech Crunch)

  • Meta is launching a new broadcast chat feature on Instagram called “Channels.” The feature lets creators share public, one-to-many messages to directly engage with their followers. (Tech Crunch)

Sports

  • Super Bowl LVII was watched by 113M viewers, making it the third most-watched TV show ever. The broadcast was seen by 61.8% of US households and generated $2.4B in advertising revenue. (WSJ)

  • The NFL is considering a new, cheaper version of its Sunday Ticket offering that could be available on YouTube. Currently, the Sunday Ticket package costs $294 per year and is only available to DirecTV subscribers. (Tech Crunch)

Video Games

  • Game developer NetEase announced that it will be implementing ChatGPT into MMO Justice Online Mobile. Players will be able to have unique interactions with NPCs throughout the game. (Dexerto)

  • 42% of US adults play mobile games for at least one hour per week. Those aged 41+ represent almost a third of mobile gamers. (YouGov)

  • Over half of US adults think it's fair they have to watch ads in exchange for free content, while two thirds of mobile gamers believe it's fair. (YouGov)

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